P. Seshadri Vs S.
Mangati Gopal Reddy & Ors.
J U D G M E N T
appeal by special leave is directed against the judgment of the High Court of Andhra
Pradesh at Hyderabad rendered in Writ Petition No. 24124 of 2009 dated 28th April,
2010 whereby the High Court set aside the extension granted to the appellant as
officer on Special Duty in the establishment of Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam (hereinafter
referred to as "the Temple") till 1st August, 2011.
aforesaid order has been passed in a writ petition styled as a public interest litigation
by S. Mangati Gopal Reddy (hereinafter referred to as "respondent
No.1"). Respondent No. 1 claims to be an agriculturist and a staunch devotee
of Lord Venkateswara since his childhood. In Paragraph 2 of the affidavit in
support of the writ petition, respondent No.1, in order to establish his locus standi
to file the public interest litigation stated as under:- "I am an
Agriculturist. I am a staunch devotee of Lord Venkateswara since my childhood. I
regularly visit the temple to offer my prayers to God. I also have donated to
the temple as per my capacity. I am a citizen of this country and a Hindu by religion.
I am a native and a resident of Tirupathi. I have come to know certain misdeeds,
discrepancies, Mismanagement of the T.T.D. Funds by some vested interests. As a
citizen of India and also as a staunch devotee of Lord Venkateswara, it is my bounden
duty to bring the said facts, which have come to my knowledge, to the notice of
this Honourable Court for appropriate directions of this Honourble Court. I also
submit that I have no personal interest in filing the above writ affidavit nor
I have any enmity with the persons whose details are furnished hereunder and against
the persons certain directions are sought in this Writ Petition. This Writ Petition
is being filed in the larger interest of the public."
has further pleaded that the Temple was established as a result of Tirumala Tirupathi
Devasthanam Act, 1932 (in short `TTD Act'). The aforesaid Act was followed in
1933 by a special Act in 1951 whereby the administration of the Temple was under
the control of the Andhra Pradesh Government. According to respondent No.1,
since the enactment of the Hindu Charitable and Religious Institutions Act, 1989,
the management and administration vests in the Board called "TTD Board"
constituted under Section 96 of the aforesaid Act.
was further the case of the respondent that the management and administration of
the Temple is controlled by the statutory provisions of the 1989 Act and the rules
made thereunder. However, the responsible officers of the TTD Board have acted in
violation of the rules framed under the aforesaid Act. He further stated that certain
discrepancies and misdeeds have been brought to the notice of the Andhra Pradesh
High Court by way of various writ petitions. The writ petition was filed to bring
to the notice of the Court various misappropriations and embezzlement of funds.
There is an ongoing controversy with regard to embezzlement of funds and, in
particular, loss of 300 gold dollars each weighing 5 gms. since August, 2008. It
was further the case of the respondent that the actions of the appellant have
been doubted in the case of missing gold dollars as he was Bokkasam Incharge and
Parpathedar of the Temple. His name was primarily mentioned in the reports of two
IPS officers, who had conducted two separate vigilance reports. These reports categorically
recommended that the appellant should not be continued in office. In spite of
such recommendations of the vigilance officer, the appellant had been continued
to respondent No.1, the appellant retired on 31st July, 2006. Since then, he has
been given five years extension in the Temple. According to the respondent, the
services of the appellant have been extended for ulterior motives. Respondent makes
a grievance that the services of the appellant have been extended as if there
is no other suitable person in the Temple or elsewhere to perform the duties of
the appellant. The respondent further alleges that the services of the
appellant were extended on a number of occasions, vide order, viz; No. Roc No. BG/10949/2006
dated 31st July, 2006 for a period of two years, Roc No. BG/10949/2007 dated 5th
August 2008, for a period of two years from 2nd August, 2007 to 1st August, 2009
and Roc No. P1/308/Sri TT/ml/2009 dated 1st August, 2009 for a further period of
two years i.e. from 2nd August, 2009 to 1st August, 2011.
respondent claimed that these extensions were wholly illegal and arbitrary exercise
of power by the TTD Board. These allegations were made relying on the recommendations
made by B.V. Ramana Kumar, IPS, the then Chief Vigilance and Security Officer. In
his report dated 28th July, 2008 initiation of disciplinary action for major penalty
has been recommended against the appellant. This report was deliberately ignored
by the TTD Board and the appellant continued to enjoy the patronage of the Board.
writ petition came up for hearing before the High Court on 9th November, 2009. Whilst
issuing notice in the writ petition, the High Court made an interim order which
was as follows:- " ............And it is further ordered that there shall
be interim suspension of the proceedings bearing Roc. No. P1/308/Sri/TT/Tml/2009,
dated 01-08-2009 of the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams, Tirupathi, which was
issued in pursuance of Resolution No. 178 dated: 7 28.07.2009 of the TTD Board,
extending the service of Sri P. Seshadri (retired employee) i.e. Respondent No.4
from 02-08-2009 to 01-08-2011."
order was challenged by the appellant in SLP (C) No.30517 of 2009. This Court
stayed the operation of the aforesaid order passed by the High Court. On 4th
December, 2009, this Court disposed of the special leave petition with the
following order:- "Heard both sides. The petitioner has challenged the ad-interim
order passed by the High Court of Judicature of A.P. whereby extension of service
of the petitioner was terminated. When the matter was mentioned before this Court
on 24.11.2009, we had granted stay of the impugned order passed by the High
Court. As it is a service matter, the High Court is requested to dispose of the
petition pending before it at an early date at least within a period of two
months. Till such time, the order passed by this Court on 24.11.2009 will be in
operation. The Special Leave Petition is disposed of accordingly."
to the aforesaid order, the High Court heard the writ petition and allowed the same
by its order dated 28th April, 2010 in the following terms:- "Sri P.
Seshadri--respondent 4, Parpathyadar in the establishment of the Tirumala
Tirupathi Devasthanams--respondent 3 retired on superannuation on 31.07.2006. He
was accorded extension in three spells and the last one has the effect of extending
his service as Officer on Special Duty till 01.08.2011 which has become subject
matter of this public interest litigation. Rule 13 of the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams
Employees Service Rules, 1989 reads thus: "The person or persons appointed
in Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams on re-employment basis after superannuation shall
in no case be continued beyond the completion of the age of sixty years." Admittedly,
respondent 4 has crossed the age of sixty years. On that count the learned counsel
for respondent 4--beneficiary of the order has not joined issue. That being so,
prohibition in the rule supra against his continuation is manifest. Situated thus
he cannot be continued anymore. We direct respondent accordingly. Settled"
is this order which is challenged by the appellant in the present appeal.
have heard the learned counsel for the parties.
Narsimha submits that the writ petition ought to have been dismissed at the threshold
by the High Court and controversy pertaining to a service matter which could
not be filed in a writ petition styled as a public interest litigation. In support
of the submission, the learned counsel relied on the following judgments of this
Court:- Dr . Duryodhan Sahu and Ors. Vs. Jitendra Kumar Mishra1, Gurpal Singh Vs.
Stat e of Punjab and Ors.2 , Neetu Vs. State of Punjab & Ors.3 and Divine Retreat
Centre Vs. State of Kerala & Ors.4 He further submitted that in any event, the
petition was not filed by respondent No.1 bonafide. It has been filed at the behest
of some persons, who are the hidden forces pursuing the writ petition. Last but
not the least, it is the submission of 1 (1998) 7 SCC 2732 (2005) 5 SCC 1363
(2007) 10 SCC 6144 (2008) 3 SCC 542 10 Mr. Narsimha that the High Court judgment
deserves to be set aside on the short ground that it is based on a complete
misinterpretation of the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams Employees Service Rules,
1989. According to the learned senior counsel, the aforesaid rules would not be
applicable to the petitioner as his service has been extended only on contractual
basis. Mr. Guntur Prabhakar, counsel for the Temple, respondent No.4 has
supported the submissions made by Mr. Narsimha. He has also relied on the
judgment of Neetu's case (supra).
Atul Pandey, appearing for respondent No.1 submitted that the services of the
appellant had been extended arbitrarily for extraneous consideration. The Board
is going out of the way to protect the appellant, who is involved in serious embezzlement
of Temple property. He submits that the extensions have been given, in spite of
the recommendations made by the 11 Chief Vigilance and security officer, B.V. Ramana
have considered the submissions made by the learned counsel. In our opinion, it
is not at all necessary to make any observations with regard to the ongoing controversy
between different groups/parties with regard to the management of the affairs of
the Temple. It is also not necessary to make any observations with regard to the
involvement or otherwise of the appellant in any activities which may invite
either adverse comments or disciplinary actions. From the pleadings of the
parties, it appears to us that there is a serious dispute with regard to the management
and the administration of the affairs of the Temple. Admittedly, separate proceedings
are pending in different Courts of competent jurisdiction with regard to those issues.
In our opinion, those proceedings cannot be confused or merged with the 12 subject
matter of the writ petition filed by the respondent No.1.
is not disputed that the appellant was in the service of the Temple for many years.
He retired from the service of the Temple on 31st July, 2006. It appears from the
records that Board of Trustees in its Resolution No.151 dated 5th/6th May, 2006
resolved to utilize the services of the appellant on contract basis for a period
of two years initially. An order to that effect was duly passed by the Board on
31st July, 2006.
1. It appears that subsequent
Resolution No.263 was passed on 25th July, 2007, giving further extension to the
appellant for a period of two years from 2nd August, 2007 to 1st August, 2009. Again,
the services of the appellant have been extended for a period of two years
through Resolution No.178 dated 28th July, 2009. The reason for continuing the services
of the appellant are stated in the Resolution itself, which are as under:- With
his vast experience and profound knowledge in the day to day affairs in Sri. Tirumala
Temple, particularly during festive and special occasion, his services are very
much required for successful and timely conduct of fairs and festivals.
2. He is well versed with
the procedures of various sevas that are being performed in Sri. Tirumala Temple.
3. His services are vastly
utilized during Kalyanamasthu programs organized throughout the country. He could
able to conduct the programs successfully to keep up the gallery of the
4. Apart from all his
role in extending honours to various Matadhipathies/Peetadhipathies visiting
Srivari Temple is commendable and he is maintaining a good rapport with all the
Swamijis, Matadhipathies and Peetadhipathies which is much essential for the
religious institutions like TTD.
5. Besides, he is available
round the clock for all the 365 days in a year for the administration to
organize various programs like Bhajagovindam, Kalyanam being conducted outside and
other religious activities."
to the aforesaid Resolution, the Board passed a formal order on 1st August, 2009
extending 14the services of the appellant till 1st August, 2011 on contract
basis on payment of monthly remuneration at last pay drawn. The High Court has nullified
the Resolution dated 21st July, 2009 and the consequential order dated 1st
August, 2009 holding the same to be contrary to Rule 13 of the 1989 rules.
Undoubtedly, Rule 13 provides that re-employment of any employee after
superannuation shall in no case be beyond the completion of age of 60 years. The
High Court, however, failed to notice that the 1989 Rules have no application
to engagements made on contract basis or when services of government servants or
employees of other organizations are utilized on deputation. Rule 2 of the
aforesaid Rules provides as under:- "2. They shall apply to every employee
of Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams except to the officers or staff taken on contract
basis and officers or staff taken on deputation from the Government or other organization."
perusal of the aforesaid Rule leaves no manner of doubt that the aforesaid
Rules apply to every employee "except to the officers or staff taken on
contract basis and officers or staff taken on deputation from the Government or
other organizations". In other words, officers or staff who are appointed
on contract basis or are taken on deputation from the Government or other organizations
form a separate class and are not covered by the aforesaid Rules. The High
Court, in our opinion, was in error, in relying on Rule 13 to nullify the
appointment of the appellant.
High Court has committed a serious error in permitting respondent No.1 to
pursue the writ petition as a public interest litigation. The parameters within
which Public Interest Litigation can be entertained by this Court and the High
Court, have been laid down and reiterated by this Court in a series of cases.
By now it ought to be plain and obvious that this Court does not approve of an
approach that would encourage petitions filed for achieving oblique motives on the
basis of wild and reckless allegations made by individuals, i.e., busybodies;
having little or no interest in the proceedings. The credentials, the motive
and the objective of the petitioner have to be apparently and patently aboveboard.
Otherwise the petition is liable to be dismissed at the threshold.
High Court ought to have satisfied itself with regard to the credentials of respondent
No.1 before entertaining the writ petition, styled as public interest
litigation. Even a cursory perusal of Paragraph 2 of the affidavit filed in the
High Court by the respondent No.1 would clearly show that the respondent No.1 has
no special concern with the extension granted to the appellant. Respondent No.1
had merely pleaded that he moved the writ petition as he is a devotee of Lord
Venkateswara. He is an agriculturist by profession. The appellant has failed to
supply any specific particulars as to how he is in possession of any special information.
The controversy with regard to the management and administration of the
Temple's properties and funds have been deliberately mixed up with the
extension granted to the appellant by the TTD Board. It is an admitted position
that different proceedings are pending with regard to the management controversy
of the Temple Trust. The aforesaid controversy had no relevance to the extension
granted to the appellant. The writ petition seems to have been actuated by some
disgruntled elements. He has also failed to show as to how and in what manner
he represents the public interest.
Court in the case of (DR .) B . Singh Vs. Union of India & Ors.5 quoted with
approval the definition of public interest as stated in the report of Public Interest
Law, USA, 1976 by the council for Public Interest Law set up by the Ford foundation
in USA. In the aforesaid report, the definition of public interest is given as
under:-5 (2004) 3 SCC 363 18 `Public interest law is the name that has recently
been given to efforts which provide legal representation to previously unrepresented
groups and interests. Such efforts have been undertaken in the recognition that
ordinary marketplace for legal services fails to provide such services to significant
segments of the population and to significant interests. Such groups and interests
include the proper environmentalists, consumers, racial and ethnic minorities and
Court in the case of Neetu Vs. State of Punjab (Supra) emphasized the need to ensure
that public interest litigation is not misused to unleash a private vendetta
against any particular person. In Paragraph 7, it is observed as follows:- "When
a particular person is the object and target of a petition styled as PIL, the
court has to be careful to see whether the attack in the guise of public interest
is really intended to unleash a private vendetta, personal grouse or some other
mala fide object."
observations had been made by this Court in the case of Ashok Kumar Pandey Vs. State
of West Bengal. 6 We may reiterate here the observations made in Paragraph 12
herein, which are as follows:-6 (2004) 3 SCC 349 19 "Public interest litigation
is a weapon which has to be used with great care and circumspection and the judiciary
has to be extremely careful to see that behind the beautiful veil of public
interest an ugly private malice, vested interest and/or publicity- seeking is not
lurking. It is to be used as an effective weapon in the armory of law for delivering
social justice to citizens. The attractive brand name of public interest litigation
should not be used for suspicious products of mischief. It should be aimed at redressal
of genuine public wrong or public injury and not publicity-oriented or founded on
personal vendetta. As indicated above, court must be careful to see that a body
of persons or a member of the public, who approaches the court is acting bona fide
and not for personal gain or private motive or political motivation or other oblique
consideration. The court must not allow its process to be abused for oblique considerations.
Some persons with vested interest indulge in the pastime of meddling with
judicial process either by force of habit or from improper motives. Often they are
actuated by a desire to win notoriety or cheap popularity. The petitions of such
busybodies deserve to be thrown out by rejection at the threshold, and in appropriate
cases, with exemplary costs."
Court again in the case of Divine Retreat Centre (Supra) reiterated that public
interest litigation can only be entertained at the instance of bonafide
litigants. It cannot be permitted to be used 20by unscrupulous litigants to disguise
personal or individual grievances as public interest litigations. The facts placed
on record in the present proceeding would clearly indicate that the appellant
has not come to Court with clean hands. He has failed to establish his credential
for moving the writ petition as public interest litigation. In our opinion, the
High Court has failed to examine the matter in its correct perspective. The writ
petition was undoubtedly moved by motives other than what was stated in the writ
petition. A perusal of the affidavit in support of the writ petition would clearly
show that the writ petition had been filed by the petitioner at the instance of
some other persons who are hiding behind the veil. In paragraph 8 of the
affidavit, respondent No. 1 states: "Sri P. Seshadri who retired on
31.7.2006, has been given 5 years extension in the TTD. It is ununderstandable whether
there is no other suitable person in the T.T.D. or elsewhere to perform the
duties of Sri. P. Seshadri which he was doing or whether he is so indispensable
that he should be given extension for 5 years. The T.T.D. has not bothered to
fill up the said 21 post of Par Pathedar till now, and have chosen to extend the
services of Sri P.Seshadri again and again, vide Board's proceedings roc.No.BG/10949/2006
dated 31.7.2006." In view of the above, we are unable to accept that the
petitioner is the actual moving spirit behind the writ petition.
the case of Gurpal Singh (Supra), this Court again emphasized that the Court
must not allow its process to be abused for oblique considerations by masked phantoms
who monitor at times from behind.
No.1 had failed to satisfy any of the criteria which would have enabled him to move
the High Court by way of a public interest litigation. A pure and simple
service matter has been deliberately disguised as a public interest litigation
at the instance of some disgruntled employees who were perhaps 22 hopeful of occupying
the seat presently occupied by the appellant.
High Court failed to notice that the writ petition was not maintainable for a variety
of reasons. As noticed earlier, the High Court did not even care to examine all
the provisions of 1989 rules before concluding that the appointment of the respondent
was contrary to Rule 13.
The respondent had raised
numerous preliminary objectives with regard to the maintainability of the writ petition,
in particular, at the instance of the respondent No.1. The High Court, in our opinion,
committed a serious error in not analyzing all the relevant provisions of the 1989
Rules, before concluding that the extension in the service granted to the
appellant was contrary to Rule 13. This Court has, on numerous occasions, emphasised
the importance of recording reasons by the High Court in support of the orders passed
in exercise of its extra ordinary jurisdiction under Article 23 226 of the Constitution
of India. Necessity for recording reasons is the fundamental to the administration
The recorded reasons
would enable the parties to the litigation to know the factors which weighed with
the court in determining the lis between the parties. This Court in the case of
Vasudeo Vishwanath Saraf Vs. New Education Institute & Ors.7 clearly
indicated the bare essentials of an order passed by the High Court while disposing
of a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. In paragraph
14, it is observed as follows :- "14. It is a cardinal principle of rule of
law which governs our policy that the court including Writ Court is required to
record reasons while disposing of a writ petition in order to enable the litigants
more particularly the aggrieved party to know the reasons which weighed with the
mind of the court in determining the questions of facts and law raised in the writ
petition or in the action brought. This is imperative for the fair and equitable
administration of justice.
More so when there is
a statutory provision for appeal to the higher court in the hierarchy of courts
in order to enable the superior court or the appellate court to know or to be apprised
of the reasons which impelled the court to pass 7 1986 (4) SCC 31 24 the order in
question. This recording of reasons in deciding cases or applications affecting
rights of parties is also a mandatory requirement to be fulfilled in consonance
with the principles of natural justice. It is no answer at all to this legal
position that for the purpose of expeditious disposal of cases a laconic order like
"dismissed" or `rejected' will be made without passing a reasoned
order or a speaking order. It is not, however, necessary that the order
disposing of a writ petition or of a cause must be a lengthy one recording in detail
all the reasons that played in the mind of the court in coming to the decision.
What is imperative is
that the order must in a nutshell record the relevant reasons which were taken into
consideration by the court in coming to its final conclusions and in disposing of
the petition or the cause by making the order, thereby enabling both the party
seeking justice as well as the superior court where an appeal lies to know the mind
of the court as well as the reasons for its finding on questions of law and facts
in deciding the said petition or cause. In other words fair play and justice demands
that justice must not only be done but must seem to have been done."The
order passed by the High Court does not satisfy the bare minimum requirements
as indicated above. In view of the above, we have no option but to allow the appeal
and set aside the impugned judgment passed by the High Court.
parting, we may notice here that under the Resolution No. 178 dated 28th July, 2007
services of the appellant have been extended upto 1st August, 2011. We are informed
by Mr. Narsimha that his services were discontinued immediately upon the judgment
having been passed by the High Court on 28th April, 2010. Consequently, the appellant
has been denied the full benefit under the Resolution and the Order dated 1st August,
2009. Since the aforesaid benefit has been denied to the appellant without any
fault on his part, we direct the Board to consider whether the appellant ought to
be granted further extension to compensate for the loss of service since 28th
these observations, the appeal is allowed and the impugned judgment of the High
Court is set aside.
[Surinder Singh Nijjar]